(Reuters) — A former head of product for Coinbase Global Inc. and his brother pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to fraud charges in what U.S. prosecutors called the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrency.
Ishan Wahi, 32, the former product manager, was arrested last month in Seattle on charges that he shared confidential information with his brother Nikhil and their friend Sameer Ramani about upcoming announcements about new digital assets that Coinbase would allow users to trade.
Nikhil Wahi also pleaded not guilty during a hearing Wednesday in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. Ramani, who was also charged, is at large.
Prosecutors said Nikhil Wahi and Mr. Ramani used ethereum blockchain wallets to acquire the assets and traded at least 14 times before Coinbase’s announcements in June 2021 and April 2022. The announcements typically caused the assets to rise in value and generated at least $1.5 million in illegal profits, said the prosecutor.
Coinbase is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.